Jon Cox

4/29/02

1984 Analytical Essay

 

            In the book 1984 by George Orwell the government is symbolized by Big Brother, his menacing mustached face plastered and projected everywhere in Oceania. People are monitored their entire day for flaws in their thinking towards Big Brother, and every so often people “vanish,” usually never to be seen again. People are known to likely be under government control and in all probability dead as a result of a thought crime – the thinking of unorthodox ideas according to Big Brother. Even language is controlled through the government, where they are constantly throwing out words of “Old Speak” and cutting down the language into “New Speak,” so its citizens would not have to think as much. This government believed that they could control and monitor its citizens, thus being able to detect “thought crime” via their actions and reactions towards events they see. This thereby weeded out the dangerous ones so as to not influence others about Big Brother’s power. The main character in this book, Winston, is the one that readers are able to see the results of the Big Brother government on through the life that he leads going against this authoritative government. Through its depiction and example of the government’s controlling power, the book 1984 was written by Orwell to caution future generations of the dangers of an all controlling government.

            The citizen’s human rights were infringed upon by the government through their monitoring, and having to believe facts and ideas that the government fed them. The monitoring that is done in 1984 is mostly done via a machine called a telescreen, a device that people watched and by which they are watched. This technology aided Big Brother, but even without the technology they had for monitoring citizens, average people still watched each other to look for weakness and weed each other out. At one point Winston is talking to a man name Syme and knows that… “he would betray him instantly to the Thought Police. So would anybody else, for that matter, but Syme more than most. Zeal was not enough. Orthodoxy was unconsciousness” (49). People did not trust each other and were so intent on being “orthodox,” that they were “unconscious” that they were in essence killing them and taking their rights away. Even children looked for these signs of weakness in their parents in order to charge them with thought crime and to help the government get rid of another radical. By being watched twenty-four hours a day it forced people to think and act in ways that would not show any signs of an original or radical idea forming in their head. The watching made them fearful to think, and with no new ideas or actions people fell victim to the collective ideas of the government and lost their free will. The loss of the right to think essentially lead to these citizens becoming drones of society, and in the end being wiped out when they got too smart. People were forced to become senseless as an attempt to not let them get too smart and in order to survive the government. This limited the ideas and actions that people could have and infringed on their rights as human beings, as well as a citizen. Not having these rights lead to a restricted life for the citizen as a result of the governments control.

            The citizen’s lifestyle and habits as a human being were also affected as a result of the government’s power. Citizens were forced to live in a way the government saw fit, and do what they were told. When people did not do exactly what was needed or became too popular, they usually “vaporized.” The radical thoughts of these citizens put them under government control and led to their disappearance. At one point during his job Winston receives a picture of three men who awhile ago were killed for their radical crimes. This picture proved what Winston was thought to be correct, which was that these men were wrongly vaporized and not guilty. “Of course, this was not in itself a discovery, Even at that time Winston had not imagined that the people who were wiped out in the purges had actually committed the crimes that they were accused of” (67). Winston knew these things when he was still a drone even without his new evidence. It would have been clear for others in this society that a citizen might not ever truly commit a thought crime, and still be wiped out. In order to protect themselves citizens were on constant lookout for any chance they might be showing what could be interpreted as a fault or unorthodoxy against Big Brother. This caused the people to fear the government, and do whatever they needed to do. Thus, from this fear a person’s lifestyle and habits are changed. They knew not to mess with such a controlling force in their lives; it looming over them in the face of Big Brother, constantly reminding them of who was in control. Winston started as just another drone of society, but began to see the governments control in its citizens and what the control led to in the end. Winston tries to overcome this control, and for a long time is able to evade the suspensions of the government in his personal rebellion. Winston knew what they did to people, and did not want to forget the rights he gained by going against them. Through his rebellion he gained his personal knowledge and hatred of Big Brother, when in the end he is captured and forced to come to terms with the governments control before his death.

            “He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of      smile was hidden beneath the dark mustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O    stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! ... But it was all right, everything             was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won victory over himself. He loved           Big Brother” (245).

 

            Winston lost his rights as a human being and had his mind altered to knowing that he could never win against Big Brother. His struggle was finished through his mind being altered for him, and all that he had struggled for in his life without Big Brother was gone. People lost their individuality and freedom of choice in this government by simply taking in any information about the world Big Brother tossed at them. Praising every word of news, people tried to become the model citizens that Big Brother wanted in his world. Big Brother’s control may have been necessary for them to try to manage its citizens, but it was hardly civil. Big Brother’s control resulted in altering peoples lives for the worse, a warning Orwell made clear through such a depiction.

            Citizens were induced into thinking that the government was the only government desirable as a result of Big Brother’s authoritative control. The Ministry of Truth, a department of the government meant for rewriting history, altered history numerous times each day to make the government constantly appear exact in their predictions and right on target in their speeches. Changes would be made about how many boots were made or manufactured as stated in a speech, or a fact that was later found be false and would have shown by their previous statement to be wrong. Through this changing of history it made Big Brother appear flawless, and far more intelligent than any other citizen, thus preventing any conflict or rebellion. An item that was frequently changed was who Oceania was either at war or peace with – it being either Eurasia or Eastasia. “The Party said that Oceania had never been in alliance with Eurasia,” Winston thought to himself early in the book. “He, Winston Smith, knew that Oceania had been in alliance with Eurasia as short a time as four years ago. But where did that knowledge exist? Only in his consciousness, which in any case must soon be annihilated” (32). Winston had this knowledge, thus providing him with one of the necessary items for his personal rebellion. It separated him from others in society who had no power of personal knowledge to make informed decisions of their own. Through these uninformed citizens the government gained control and convinced them that the best way to not lose their rights was to prevent radicals from taking the government’s control away. By thinking this way they ignored the individual, and instead looked at their government as a whole, forgetting the lives and rights of its individual citizens. This authoritative control brought people in under Big Brother’s umbrella, and even though they were being fed lies they accepted them as the greatest honest truth.

            Through the structure of this government people were forced to believe facts and ideas, as well as be monitored twenty-four hours a day. The government forced people to live as they saw fit, using persuasion to reel people in and change whatever in history they felt was necessary to make them look like the finest government ever. Orwell made it clear through these extreme circumstances that this should not be tolerated, and stopped before a full controlling government could take over and force people to live a life similar to Winston’s. The thought of such an extremely controlling government functioning in the real world causes any person to be startled by knowing what it leads to. Orwell warned us through this book thirty-five years ago of the consequences that could arise from such a government, and now eighteen years after the year 1984, the warning still rings clear.